How Do You Deal With This Forced “Retreat”?

September 2, 2020

As I sit down to share my thoughts with you, my house is very noisy. I simultaneously feel lonely. Our home is fairly small and fairly busy right now. My husband, working from home, is on a conference call on a speaker phone back in the office. The baby monitor occasionally squawks as our 10-month-old granddaughter declines her nap, and our 11-month-old puppy is asking to be let in and out. Repeatedly.

Deep Breath! 

It’s difficult to slow down so suddenly.

I’ve been reading and listening to inspirational and spiritual folks talking about slowing down and being present; taking our extra down time as a gift, a mini “retreat” as it were. No need for anyone to rush here and there and to stay connected via social media, Zoom meetings, phone calls, etc. I’d like to say I am one of these people, but I must admit, I’m finding it hard not to “waste a perfectly good pandemic” as my pastor would say. 

The slower pace allows me time to look at those things in my life that are much easier to ignore when I’m running as fast as I can.

Ellen Keenan

Anyone who knows me well won’t be surprised when I confess, I’m a bit of an introvert. You might guess I enjoy all of this “alone” time. But as mentioned above, I’m not so alone and also, I’m actually feeling rather lonely and at loose ends. There’s a hum of anxiety right below the surface as I try to give the day more structure and navigate this “freedom” that doesn’t feel very free. 

The gift and the difficulty of quiet is seeing things in life that we’d rather ignore.

The slower pace allows me time to look at those things in my life that are much easier to ignore when I’m running as fast as I can. The worries weve had before this began can loom larger when given more time on our hands. People feeling lonely and isolated may feel more so. Those struggling with relationships, financial strains, long term illnesses, and other of life’s many challenges may feel these stresses even more in combination with the uncertainty of the pandemic. 

The book of Lamentations may be a strange place to look for inspiration during this time, and yet somehow appropriate. One of my favorite passages is found in Chapter 3:21-24, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Yet, God is profoundly faithful. Always.

This reminds us of an important truth amid whatever storms we’re facing. Each new day is filled with new blessings and God’s continual faithfulness.

The hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” says it as well. “ . . . Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!”

We’ll get through this day by day knowing God’s steadfast love is with us, never changing, filling us with hope. Maybe I’ll be able to “not waste this perfectly good pandemic” after all. 

– Ellen Keenan, Certified Spiritual Director

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